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November 12, 2010

Former Pirates manager John Russell interviews with Showalter

Orioles manager Buck Showalter interviewed former Pittsburgh Pirates manager John Russell on Friday for one of two vacant positions on his coaching staff, according to two industry sources.

Russell, 49, could fit as Showalter's bench coach or third base coach, a position Russell held with the Pirates from 2003 to 2005 under then-manager Lloyd McClendon. Russell rejoined the Pirates in 2008 and served three seasons as manager before being fired at the end of this past season.

He compiled a 186-299 record (.384 winning percentage) while at the helm of the Pirates.

Russell was a first-round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1982 and played parts of 10 seasons in the majors, five with the Phillies, one with the Atlanta Braves and the final four with the Texas Rangers.

He played 209 of his 448 major league games at catcher, with the highlight coming in 1990, when he caught Nolan Ryan's sixth no-hitter. Russell also played some outfield and corner infield as a pro.

After his playing career, Russell managed in the Minnesota Twins' and Phillies' organizations, earning the 2006 International League Manager of the Year Award with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Russell is a potential fit because Showalter is looking for a catching instructor who can serve on the bench or at third base. He would like to have a former manager as bench coach but said that is not imperative. He does, however, want a third base coach who has major league experience at that spot.

If Russell is hired, then Gary Allenson, who was the Orioles' third base coach for the season's final four months, likely would return to manage Triple-A Norfolk. Allenson is also a catching instructor.

That would leave the Orioles looking for an infield coach at either bench or third base. Possibilities include former New York Mets manager Willie Randolph and former Oriole Mike Bordick.

The Orioles have hired four other coaches: Jim Presley (hitting), Mark Connor (pitching), Rick Adair (bullpen) and Wayne Kirby (first base/outfield).

There is no timetable on when the other two will be hired or when the entire staff will be announced.

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Posted by Dan Connolly at 10:15 PM | | Comments (7)


I'm available and I'll work for half the salary and a quarter of the sunflower seeds.

Good. Now that that's done, perhaps we can get off of the relatively silly coaching search and do something productive, such as find some guys who actually play on the field.

I think General Eisenhower put less planning into the D-Day invasion of Europe than Buck has done with his coaching staff.

Is it me., or is this coach-hiring thing dragging on for a ridiculous amount of time? We can only hope there's this much to talk about when the hot stove for players begins to heat up.

I'm a Pirate fan and liked John Russell. He's very laid-back, but smart. Hope he gets the job with the Orioles. He should do well.

Why is there so much thumb twiddling in Birdland? Why are they wasting their time with marginal coaches!

John Russell showed nothing during his time in Pittsburgh. Why in the world wold the Orioles be interested in a coach like John Russell? Did anyone ask? Probable not.

Also, if this statement is true: There is no timetable on when the other two will be hired or when the entire staff will be announced.

Then why exactly was there a rush in signing Wayne Kirby? This was a down deal before any Orioles Fans could bat an eyelash? Makes no sense to me. Did anyone ask, why? Probable not.

Just from reading comments the other day. I just want to provide follow up

Dan Uggla has experience playing 3rd base. Maybe instead of trading him, the Marlins maybe simply will release him just as they did wth Cody Ross.

Jayson Werth has a lot of experience playing CF. If the Orioles could get him, it would set up other trades.

Lastly it is my opinion the Orioles need to get the coaching situation in order before they sign any free agents or make any trades. I can't wait to see what happens next in the soap opera "As the Oriole Flies"!

It's kind of funny Trembley isn't coming back partly because of his .390-something winning percentage as manager, and Russell's winning percentage as a major league manager is slightly lower.

Okay, okay, I understand the entire situation. I get it. I really do. It's just kind of funny.

I'm sure Russell, like Trembley, is a good baseball man, a nice guy, so on and so forth, but at some point the Orioles need to do something substantial -- at least something akin to making a proper offer to a proper piece of the puzzle which will lead to genuine improvement.

I mean we waited until the end of the season, until the end of the World Series, until free agency is actually upon us, until the winter meetings, until the key coaches are named, until the dish ran away with the spoon. How many more lists of potential interest in free agents and/or trades are we going to be subject to?

For that matter, why is there never a timetable for anystinkingthing this club does? To me, that's a very basic -- and a very severe -- problem. That alone tells me there is very little substance to The Plan. Really, isn't the key word here, plan?

Hey Waspman!

Good to see you made the cut!

Anyway, yeah John Russell doesn't exactly fit in here. Then again, the way MacPhail has run this team, he's a perfect match. I don't think I can say it any better then Wikipedia did about him.

John Russell (catcher)
The following year he was named the Pirates third-base coach, a job he held from 2003-2005. Russell was unpopular among some Pirates fans because of the frequency of runners he waved home that were thrown out at the plate. He was eventually fired, along with the rest of Lloyd McClendon's coaching staff, in 2005. Are we sure that MacPhail doesn't run the Orioles and the Pirates? Nothing like hiring Russell for manager after that kind of production as Third base Coach.

And if you want an honest opinion about MacPhail and his "Plan". His "Plan" is designed to get the 'True Orioles Fans" Blood Pressure to "Rise" by his poor decisions. It is not "Designed" to help the Orioles "Rise" in the standings!

waspman -

That's the key difference between the Orioles and the rest of baseball, especially when it comes to the other four teams in the AL East.

The Brian Cashman, Theo Epstein, Andrew Friedman and Alex Anthoupolous each have a specific, detailed plan for their team this winter. Andy MacPhail is just sitting back, waiting to see what happens.

That's the difference between the winners and the losers of the offseason. The winners prioritize certain players and have backup plans if Plan A doesn't work. The Orioles don't prioritize anything as they wait for the pieces to fall to them.

Oh, sure, we're hearing that Andy is going to bring in a power bat at a corner infield position this winter, but didn't we hear that in the winter of '07? And the winter of '08? And '09? Our GM is all talk and no substance. If he was serious about acquiring top of the line bats through free agency, it would have happened already.

As legendary Woody Harrelson would say, it's time for MacPhail to "Nut up or shut up!"

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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